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Misfortune

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  1,625 Ratings  ·  246 Reviews
Lord Loveall, heretofore heirless lord of the sprawling Love Hall, is the richest man in England. He arrives home one morning with a most unusual package - a baby that he presents as the inheritor to the family name and fortune. In honor of his beloved sister, who died young, Loveall names the baby Rose. The household, relieved at the continuation of the Loveall line, igno ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published May 4th 2006 by Vintage (first published 2005)
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Greg
May 04, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Did you ever wonder what Dickens would be like if there was more gender confusion and hand jobs? Well if you did then this novel could put your mind at rest. If you didn't ever wonder about those things then maybe you'll just read this book and enjoy the story as being a fun English novel with villainous villains, wronged innocents, creepy family secrets and an almost magical country estate.
Joshua
Jun 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am completely blown away by Mr. Stace's ability to completely envelop a character and make the character LIVE! Now I am eagerly looking forward to reading more of his work.

Misfortune is a truly engaging and titillating story! A boy raised as a girl by an asexual man and his literary wife? What will happen when puberty rears its ugly head? What indeed!!! The awakening of Rose Old is monumental, especially to his extended family. An uncle accidentally sent to his final reward, a cousin aroused a
...more
Emily Graves
I'm reviewing this book mainly because it's one of my favorite books of all time and I think it's horribly underrated.

Disclaimer: I'm a sucker for Victorian and pseudo-Victorian foundling stories. This is that. But it's so much more. It's a story of love of literature, research, lost and found identities, and friendship and love.

The elements of body-horror and gender discovery may be too much for some, but it's all very tastefully done. The prose alone is gorgeous and the plot structure is impec
...more
Elizabeth (Miss Eliza)
A young baby boy is being thrown out with the trash. Unwanted and alone a chance of fate has him picked up by the richest Lord in the land, Lord Loveall. Lord Loveall has been mourning all his life for his dear departed sister and when he sees this baby he assumes it to be female and a chance to have his sister back. But Lord Loveall can't just miraculously have an heir, a quick marriage is arranged with his sister's old governess, Anonyma, who has stayed on as librarian at Love Hall to catalog ...more
Lora
Mar 21, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am so conflicted by this book. On one hand, I found the exploration of gender absolutely fascinating, and the character's eventual resting place (no spoilers) extremely satisfying. I loved the discussion of nature vs. nurture, and the assertion that it's not as clear cut as advocates of EITHER side would have us believe. I loved the ambiguity of it all.

Unfortunately, I found the plot and pacing a little bit lacking. Other readers have noted that the middle bit is rather ponderous, weighed down
...more
Andrea
Aug 01, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Confused gender identity, English humor; sometimes very clever and sometimes quite slow paced... While I enjoyed the writing style and the overall plot, the latter portion of the book isn't constructed as well as the first. Oh, but I did enjoy it, and was disturbed by it.
Clair Belmonte
Jan 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the best contemporary novels that I have read in a long time, and I would recommend it to anyone. It certainly possesses that 19th century classic novel feel, with the woven complications and the aristocratic concerns. However, this book is just strange enough to keep itself from falling into a classic remake.
This isn't a parody; this is taking familiar Victorian ideals and settings while discussing contemporary issues. This is a wonderful book to add to the mix of LGBTQ discussi
...more
EMM
Nov 05, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was looking forward to reading this book, thinking of it as a kind of treat. For the most part, it wasn't. How dare this book not be fun? For starters, take that title at its word. Then don't be taken in by the first chapter. It's not in keeping with the rest of the book. There is a point of view switch and a shift in storytelling style, and it's all downhill from there. Often the book wallows in the dreary and the boring and that makes for some tedious reading. The protagonist spends big chun ...more
Lucy
Aug 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very interesting book to say the least. About a very, very odd, wealthy man who finds a baby boy in a garbage heap and raises him as a girl in remembrance of his dead sister who he never quite got over (I think this was in the mid-1800s). Unfortunately the boy, named Rose, doesn't realize that he is a girl until he is 17 years old, and can't understand why he needs to shave, amongst other things, that his girl friends don't have to do. Really though, the way they explain everything it ...more
Sena Zimmer
I loved it and I became very frustrated with this book. The detail was mind boggling, and some parts of the book could have been left out, and the story could have been told. Maybe if I had listened to it on CD in the car, I would have been more patient, then I probably would have given it 4 stars. I am glad I finished the book, and LOVED the ending, and that made it worth the journey.
Jady
Aug 05, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I like reading debut novels in a slightly different way from how I enjoy novels and books in general. There's a freshness to them, and a bit of risktaking as well, on my part as well as the writers'...the potentiality for discovery. Of course, I enjoy reading works by established and acclaimed writers too, but with them there's sometimes a shadow of prior readers' opinions and judgments hovering at the edge of my consciousness. "What did they think here? Were they right? Do I agree with them? Wh ...more
Mark
Jul 31, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
British singer-songwriter John Wesley Harding is a master at cramming verbose stories into fun three-minute pop songs.British novelist Wesley Stace doesn't have the benefit of a bouncy beat, so it takes him 544 pages to tell his story in Misfortune. Even so, Stace's debut novel moves along quickly thanks to his engaging storytelling. This isn't surprising since John Wesley Harding is the musical alias of one Welsey Stace.

A little identity crisis? Maybe, but it's nothing compared to what Rose, th
...more
Amber
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure what I have to say about this book. I feel like I should have some comment on what it says about social issues of gender, wealth/poverty, etc., but I haven't thought too deeply about it yet. I'm sort of a plot-whore, and this book has lots of plot. I think I'm still too busy sifting through all of that to think about larger implications.

I'm just kind of mad at the parents (though they were nice and did, after all, rescue an abandoned baby) for making the main character deal with suc
...more
Beth Cavanaugh
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was so fantastic! Utterly strange, but in a familiar historical-fiction style. Witty and clever, beautiful and sad, so, so, so interesting. It does drag a bit in the middle when the main character goes on a bit of a quest, but it picks back up again and comes full circle. Unlike anything I've ever read, but as I said rooted in a familiar style so it doesn't feel like you're reading something too out there. It is set in a grand estate (think Downton Abbey), where the ailing matriarch is ...more
Quigui
May 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I am not sure how I came about this book. It might have been a recommendation for another book, or simply finding the cover somewhere and being drawn to it (how could I not, there is a woman with a moustache!). In any case, it was an absolute find!

Set in the 19th century it tells the story of Rose Old Loveall, from birth to death, in a memoir style, and with very quirky language. What makes this book different? Well, Rose is found by the Young Lord Loveall after being left for dead in a rubbish
...more
Manda
I found this book years ago, sitting on a discount book shelf. I was intrigued by it and thought I would give it a try. What I found, I loved. Yes, you could call it a Dickens's parody, but writing like this isn't found all the time anymore. It was as if Dickens and Shakespeare sat down together to write something brilliant. There were many pleasant surprises in this story, and I found myself wrapped up in the main character, rooting them on, crying with them, and worried about their future. A t ...more
Kirsten
Feb 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this gender-bending novel! It's a bit like a fairytale, and a bit like a Dickens novel, and a bit like pretty much nothing else. It concerns one Rose Loveall, raised as a girl, who discovers that she is actually a boy when she hits puberty. Rose travels through personal tragedy and trial by fire in true picaresque fashion, finally emerging as a whole being who manages to embrace both genders. It's funny and beautifully written, and I loved it a lot.
Shana
Mar 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A somewhat bizarre story told in a compelling, farcical manner that kept me racing through it.

Rose is telling the story at the end of his/her life. An orphan, Rose is rescued and raised by a wealthy family. S/he is raised as a girl, discovering later that she's really a he. Obvious confusion results, and while the ensuing resolution to the tale ties up in a neat package, the manner of telling drew me in. Stace's language and subtle humor kept me wanting more.
Marvin
Aug 05, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderfully quirky novel set on a 19th-century English estate, where an eccentric lord rescues a male infant from a garbage heap & raises him as a girl. It's a story about how love overcomes obstacles of character & nature & of the benefits of accepting what life throws at us, compelling us to choose the life that is chosen for us.
Justine
Feb 23, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
seriously hated this book
Jaindoh
Nov 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
Well constructed and great genderbending topic but ultimately way too predictable.
Erin Britton
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wesley Stace (pseudonym for musician John Wesley Harding) makes one of the best literary debuts of recent years with Misfortune, a tale of gender bending, familial discord and dubious attachments to dead sisters. A baby boy, the unwanted son of a London prostitute, is rescued from abandonment on a rubbish heap by Lord Loveall, the richest man in England. Deciding that he will keep the child, Lord Loveall names the boy Rose and raises him, along with the help of his librarian/wife of convenience, ...more
Taniplea
Oct 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
While the idea was really interesting and the book raised some important questions, it was also really slow and partly boring. I didn't really understand why some things had to be told in great detail while other parts of the story, which were far more interesting, were left out. Unfortunately, most of it was also really predictable. However, this challenged my English skills, since the language was harder than in books I usually read in English, so at least I improved my English a bit by readin ...more
Dree
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 500-page romp through early 19th century England, this book tells the story of Rose Loveall, a male foundling raised as a girl heir to Love Hall--who grows up to be a cross-dressing man, booted from his home by the Osbern side of the Loveall family.

Intrigue (over decades), goofiness, wordplay, rich snobs, longtime servants and friends, ballads, and books all come together to solve the mystery of Rose's origin and find the true heir to Love Hall.

And it really does all neatly wrap up. I almost w
...more
Elisa Vangelisti
Quattro parole: mamma mia che noia! E dire che l’ho comprato nuovo, va be’… Wesley parte a descrivere un ghetto. Un ragazzino sparuto corre come un pazzo obbedendo all’ordine di una fantomatica “Madre”che pare regina indiscussa del suo piccolo regno. Deve liberarsi di qualcosa che si chiama “veleno”. Quando porta a termine la missione, entra in scena un lord che raccoglie il fagotto e se lo tiene come un figlio (il veleno altro non è che un neonato che non avrebbe dovuto sopravvivere). Poi il ra ...more
Sheli
Aug 17, 2017 rated it liked it
I found this book at a secondhand store, and chose it purely from the back blurb. I wasn't disappointed, storyline-wise, but the writing left much to be desired.
The beginning of the book was rather slow, and felt superfluous until much later in the story. The body of the story was quite interesting, filled with coming-of-age difficulties and awareness awakening. The ending felt a bit too rushed, like an info dump.
Overall, enjoyable, but could have been written better.
Donna Krebs
Jul 21, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To me, the first part of the book was very good. But as the protagonist grew the author put more sex in. I can understand some of this but I really don't need to know in detail about every sexual urge the hero has! Then it seemed to start to drag some. By the last fifty pages I knew what was going to happen and just wanted the book to end! It's a shame that such an excellent beginning just turned into a so-so book.
Simona Moschini
Aug 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Una storia immaginaria di travestitismo nell'Inghilterra del primo XIX secolo? Perché no.
Il problema è che la narrazione è alquanto sfilacciata, sentimentale, nemmeno particolarmente erotica nonostante gli spunti boccacceschi abbondino. Una sbrodolata, diciamolo.
Erin
I read this book as a new release and thought it was awful. I forced myself to finish it hoping it would get better, but it didn't. That was well over 10 years ago, maybe I would find it a better read now that I'm older.
Amanda Gonzales
Jul 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I laughed, I cried, I gave it 5 stars.
I adored this book, what's more is I adored these characters, these humans. If I could put my arms around the author and hug him for the gift of this story, I would.
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The Music 1 9 Apr 04, 2008 07:05PM  
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Wesley Stace also records music under the nom de plume of John Wesley Harding.
More about Wesley Stace...

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“You are undoubtedly of the opinion that men are superior to women. Esmond?”
“Well, I…”
“You are wrong. Eve is superior because she was created after Adam. God didn’t take backward steps, so Eve must be an improvement.”
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“Within the walls of Love Hall, Lord Loveall could command this kind of respect.” 1 likes
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